Back in June, the White House issued an executive order pledging a commitment to international religious freedom.
The order calls religious freedom “America’s first freedom” and “a moral and national security imperative.” It also states our nation’s historic commitment “to ensure equal rights and legal protections for individuals and groups regardless of belief.” But the order says nothing about the gravest consequence of global religious persecution: the refugee crisis.
Excerpt: “Any U.S. commitment to defending religious freedom will inevitably fail if it doesn’t address refugee resettlement. Displacement remains the world’s largest and most widespread humanitarian emergency, resulting in greater danger than most diseases, including COVID-19. Yet the glaring reality is that the United States —blessed with the largest economy in the world — has drastically reduced its commitment to refugees, including Christian refugees, in the last four years.
According to a recent report released by Open Doors USA and World Relief, the U.S. will receive roughly 90% fewer Christian refugees from the countries where they face the most severe persecution in 2020 than in 2015.
Our church in Tulsa, Okla., is connected to Christians from various countries whose religious freedom is constantly in danger. Many now live in our own city, having come to the U.S. fleeing religious persecution at home. The largest group of Christian refugees in Tulsa, numbering nearly 10,000, are from Myanmar (Burma), which has had multiple cases of infringements on religious freedom, including severe acts of violence.
In January of this year, a local Burmese pastor reached out to me about the grave concerns circulating among Tulsa’s Burmese/Zomi community. The White House had just announced its latest list of countries from which travel is suspended and, to the great surprise of many, Myanmar was first on the list. “Travel Ban 4.0,” as some have called it, went into effect in January. The Burmese community feared a dramatic decrease in family reunification visas, and those fears came true…”